Home » Blog » Children's Picture Books » Children’s Picture Books – Rules of Summer by Shaun Tan

Children’s Picture Books – Rules of Summer by Shaun Tan

This beautifully illustrated children’s picture book, originally crafted as large oil paintings by Australian author/illustrator Shaun Tan, was awarded Best Picture Book of 2014 by the Children’s Book Council of Australia.

Containing very little text, “Tan loves to juxtapose the ‘ordinary and extraordinary’ to translate ordinary activities into fantastical scenes.” and Tan believes that less is more, allowing the illustrations to be interpreted by the viewer’s own perception and imagination to unravel the events.

Rules of Summer Picture Book by Shaun Tan

The story is about two boys, one rather bigger or older than the other, and the things they do one summer, which is told in a series of dramatic and evocative paintings. It is a mysterious and at times unsettling visitation of childhood imaginary play, friendships, memories, disagreements, rivalry and ‘rules’ that might govern any relationship between close friends or siblings.
Rules of Summer Picture Book by Shaun Tan
This book begins with the line: ‘This is what I learned last summer’ and then each page contains a rule that begins with ‘Never’ until the last few rules, which begin with the word ‘Always’. There is a surreal quality to some of the rules offered up in the text.
Watch the video below where Shaun is interviewed on ABC Radio and discussed the book in more detail.
Video Interview Rules of Summer

Themes to explore from the book:
  • rules
  • friendship & companionship
  • disagreements & rivalry
  • outsiders, loneliness, isolation, alienation and belonging
  • imagination
Curriculum Topics

Study of History, Society & Environment

  • intolerance & cultural miscomunication
  • suburbia & the urban environment


Click here to download a teacher’s guide for this book which you can use with your students.

Follow lesley:

Professional Artist and Art Teacher

My art journey has taken me along several paths. I am currently producing fine art, photographic prints, and illustrations. This has led to combining digital media into the mix to produce a range of hand-crafted products. I am also a qualified art teacher and teach art to young creatives in my studio in the Redlands area of Queensland, Australia.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.